Lately I've taken to watching a lot of the Community Television Network. Of the four channels CTN operates, my favorite is 16, which bills itself as, "The meeting place...where Ann Arbor watches its City government in action."

I haven't seen a full fledged city council meeting yet, but have seen all manner of commissions and the odd advisory board. If I had to pick a favorite, I'd go with the Commission on Disability Issues. It's broadcast live the third Wednesday of every month and then rebroadcast the following Thursday and Saturday.

Sometimes the subject matter of the meeting is itself interesting -- this is most often true of the zoning board of appeals, I think -- but even when not, I find myself taking an interest in various aspects of meeting dynamics. I remember one meeting in particular where the idea was to create a set of rules for an upcoming festival. One participant suggested that they base the rules on one or another set of widely accepted guidelines. Another launched the principled objection that no attempt to establish adequate guidelines can ever succeed, and kept insisting that no guidelines should be consulted even when it became clear that everyone else disagreed. The Chair deftly resolved the matter by creating a subcommittee.

Relatedly, there was a time when I thought of meetings as an impediment to getting things done. More and more, I tend to think of meetings as a very important kind of work in their own right, and that having good productive meetings is a key component in the success of just about any cooperative endeavor.

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